I was raised in a home where work ethic was very important and I held onto that mindset throughout my work history. I have always been known to work very hard and give 110% at every job that I had since I was 16 years of age. I never said, ‘no’, to working overtime, evenings or weekends. I had jobs in retail, office and in social services. So you can say that I have had a mix of experience but always stayed loyal to the employer I worked for.
Many times I would put work above anything else as I became the “job”. I didn’t realize then that I allowed my job to define who I was as a person. For some odd reason I lost myself in the process of being dedicated and it took me to start a family and to get laid off to realize it.
So why was it hard for me to digest the fact that I was not going back to work? Why should I not be jumping over the moon as I get to spend more time with my daughter? Why did I have mix feelings on the next chapter of my life? Who was I?
These were just some of the questions that were on my mind. But with everything in life, we eventually find the answers.
It was hard to come to terms that I wasn’t going back to work (due to my lay-off) or in other words working outside of the home. Even though it was the best decision for my family for me to stay home for a little longer, it was still hard. I felt that I worked so hard to build my professional portfolio and now it was over in an instant. So why was it hard for me?!
It was difficult as I knew how hard it would be to re-enter the workforce. The labour market is a fast pace and competitive one, being out of it for another year can be a real disadvantage for anyone. Employers may look at your skills as outdated or feel that you could be a little rusty from being inactive for a while. This made me worry about our family’s future and how I can financially contribute to it.
Another reason as to why it was difficult were all the feelings associated with not working. You feel that you don’t have value, feel guilty and sadness as you are no longer contributed to society or to the economy. These are overwhelming feelings to feel and the factors that contributed to these feelings were the expectations through society, my own and how I allowed work to define who I was.
Don’t get me wrong as it is a blessing to stay at home to raise your children as it’s a time that you can never get back. But it was hard for me since work is all that I knew with the exception of my one year maternity leave. I felt that I would be judged by many on the outside and can hear the whispers under their voices. “They must have lots of money for her to stay home.” “She does nothing all day.” So you can say that I was feeling guilty and ashamed in staying home and that I should be doing so much more.
The real issue was that I allowed others to affect the way I looked at myself and my worth. But at times it was hard not to listen to the comments that I got. For example, “You don’t need to buy us anything as you don’t have a job.” Or my favorite has been, “Well, you don’t work.”
It has been a hard transition to go from workaholic to stay-at-home mom but I have finally embraced it. I had to find me first since I lost myself and soon after I learned acceptance.
It has been a journey with many lessons learned. I learned that a job is only a piece of you and it shouldn’t define who you are. Motherhood and being a stay-at-home mom provided me the opportunity to find myself and it gave me a voice that I never thought I had. There is so much more to me and I can’t be defined by a job description.
I learned that people are going to judge or make insensitive comments no matter what you say or do and the most important lesson here is that these people don’t matter. What you think of yourself matters most.
I learned that I do have a job and it is the most important job in the world and it is one that requires me 24/7. I am a caregiver, cook, nurse, teacher, planner, but most importantly I am a mother and wife. I do contribute to society and to the economy as I am raising a child; a future adult who will make her mark in the world.
I am proud to be a stay-at-home mom and am grateful that I was able to do this now. I have stopped feeling guilty and ashamed as my role is just as important as any job.
So who am I?
I am a strong, independent woman who is a wife, mother, friend, niece, cousin and daughter. I am someone who supports, encourages and cares for others. I am creative with a set of many diverse skills. I have a voice, value and worth. But most importantly, I am me and I am so happy that I found her!
Until next time … Happy Parenting!
– Momma Braga